From Crook to Cook: Snoop Dogg Hits the Kitchen

Whether he’s in the hood or in an international city, Snoop Dogg says he’s got to eat and over three decades of performing around the globe, the famous rapper has learned to adapt dishes from what he grew up eating as well as recipes he’s discovered on the road. He shares these in his cookbook, Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg’s Kitchen.

Snoop Dogg’s OG Fried Bacon Sandwich

Interestingly, the book, released  in 2018 is again topping the charts spurred by his ultra-cool appearance and performance at the Super Bowl Halftime Show as well as his current Corona Beer commercials. According to a recent article in Rolling Stone magazine,  the book hit the Top Ten of Amazon’s bestsellers list, was Number One on Amazon’s celebrity cookbooks list, topping even newer releases from the likes of Rachael RayQueer Eye’s Antoni Porowski and the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.

Billionaire’s Bacon from Snoop Dogg’s From Crook to Cook

Plus, we love how he hangs with Martha Stewart, appearing on her show Martha Knows Best as well as the co-hosting the long running TV series Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.

Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg. Courtesy of VHI

As Snoop Dogg, who by the way has 44 million Facebook followers and 74 million on Instagram, says “You know it’s blazin’ up in my kitchen. I’m takin’ the cookbook game higher with a dipped and whipped collection of my favorite recipes, ya dig?”

OG Fried Bologna Sandwich

SERVES 1

  • 3 slices bologna
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 3 slices American cheese
  • Barbecue potato chips, as many as you want

Place the bologna on a cutting board and cut one slit from the middle to the edge of each slice.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Swirl the skillet to cover the bottom

completely. When the skillet is hot and the foam has subsided, add the bread. Lightly toast for about 2

minutes per side, or until golden. Transfer to a cutting board and spread the mustard on one slice of

bread.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the bologna in a single layer. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the edges are golden and crisp. Flip the bologna and top each slice with the American cheese. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, or until the cheese starts to melt.

Place the fried bologna and cheese on the toasted bread slice without mustard and top with as many chips as you and your sandwich can handle.

 Close the sandwich, placing the other bread slice, mustard-side down, on top. Go to town.

Billionaire’s Bacon

SERVES 4

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon

Preheat the oven to 400°F, with a rack in the top third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, place a wire rack on top of the foil, and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Lay the bacon slices on the rack. Spread the brown sugar mixture evenly over the bacon.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time to ensure even cooking. The bacon is done when it’s crispy and glazed.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool the bacon for 5 minutes on the rack. Serve warm.

Reprinted from Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg’s Kitchen by Snoop Dogg with permission from Chronicle Books, 2018. Photographs © Antonis Achilleos and Heather Gildroy.

Tipsy Scoop: Up Your Ice Cream With A Boozy Twist

I love ice cream but Melissa Tavss of Tipsy Scoop has taken it one step farther. Instead of just ice cream, she’s adding artisanal spirits and creating boozy sweet treats. Her ice creams such as Dark Chocolate Whiskey Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Vanilla Bean Bourbon Ice Cream, and Raspberry Limoncello Sorbet have been available at many retail stores for several years now. And last summer, she formed a partnership with Williams Sonoma enabling Tipsy Scoop to be shipped to customers nationwide through the Williams Sonoma website. Tavss has also released her first cookbook, “Tipsy Scoop: Latest and Greatest Recipes.”

You can use the cookbook to make your own Tipsy Scoops. Also available are a variety of Tipsy Scoop kits such as their Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey Chocolate Swirl and Spring Fever Cocktail Kit featuring 1 pint Strawberry White Sangria Sorbet. 1 pint Vanilla Bean Bourbon ice cream, 1 bottle cherry hard cider, 1 can spiked strawberry lemonade,  1 mini cherry preserves,  1 bag cherry gummies, 1 bag fruit gummies,  1 fresh lemon, and recipe cards, paper straws, and hashtag flags (for posting your creations on social media sites).

The following recipes are courtesy of Melissa Tavss and are from “Tipsy Scoop: Latest and Greatest Recipes.”

Note: Though some of these recipes call for specific brands of alcohol, you can substitute your own–though the taste may differ somewhat.

Ice Cream Mix

This recipe freezes well.

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 8 egg yolks

Makes 1.5-2 quarts of ice cream mix

In a medium-size heavy duty saucepan, add milk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Over medium-high heat, scaled the mixture, removing from heat once bubbles begin to form.

I a large bowl, add sugar and egg yoks and whisky until the turn a lighter yellow, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Slowly pour half the scaled milk and cream mixture into the gg yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Add the egg and mix mixture back into the saucepan.

Saucepan. Warm over low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula or spoon. The custard is thick enough once it can easily coat a spatula or spoon which takes a few minutes. (Note: Overcooking will scramble the eggs so proceed with caution.)

Transfer custard to a heat proof container, cover, and let cool for 1 hour before adding in alcohol and additional ingredients.

Maple Bourbon

  • 6 cups Ice Cream Mix (see recipe above)
  • 1 cup Four Roses Bourbon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup bacon, cooked and chopped (about 8 to 10 strips of bacon)

In a large mixing bowl, combine ice cream mix, bourbon, and maple syrup and stir.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

While mix chills, cook bacon until it is crispy and set aside on a paper towel to drain and cool for around 30 minutes. Chop into quarter-inch pieces using a sharp knife. Refrigerate in airtight container until ready to add to ice cream.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it has a gelato-like consistency.

Transfer the ice cream to a large mixing bowl and stir n bacon crumbles. Transfer the ice cream into a freezer-safe containers and freeze for a least eight hours before serving.

Hot Buttered Rum

“What could be better than that last bite in your bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?” writes Tavss in her description of what she describes as a cinnamon-y sweet cereal milk bite turned into a spiked ice cream.  “Not only will it give you that taste of nostalgia, but will bring you that festive, comforting, holiday party in your mouth feeling all year long.”

  • 6 cups Ice Cream Mix
  • 1/4 cup Cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Melted Butter
  • 1 cup Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients and stir.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until it has a gelato-like consistency.

Transfer the ice cream into freezer-safe containers and freeze for at least 8 hours before serving.

Makes about 2 quarts.

Serving suggestions:

Caramelize sliced bananas and make a bananas foster split. Add extra toppings like hot fudge, caramel sauce, toffee, walnuts and anything else that sounds good.

Non Dairy Ice Cream And Sorbet

“You’ll notice in the chapters following that not only do we have milk-based ice creams, but also have a few options for non-dairy boozy ice creams and boozy sorbets,” writes Tavss in the introduction to her chapter on non-dairy ice creams and sorbets. “Our non-dairy ice creams are made with a coconut milk base and our sorbets are made with different fruits, so they have a water/fruit base.

Puree recipes vary fruit by fruit, but our sorbets all start with fruit purées- raspberry, mango, watermelon, peach etc. Since there is so much variation fruit by fruit, you’ll see instructions for each fruit purée included within the recipes in the following chapters.”

Simple Syrup Recipe

What all sorbet recipes do have in common is the need for simple syrup. Here is a very simple, simple syrup recipe:

How to make simple syrup:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water

In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar.

Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow it to cool.

Watermelon Mint Margarita Sorbet

“Watermelon. Mint. Margarita. Is there a more mouthwatering combination of words in the whole English language?” writes Tavss, describing this sorbet to be like sitting on the back porch with a juicy slice of watermelon dripping down your forearm or cutting out of work early for a happy hour margarita on that first really hot day of summer.”

Watermelon Purée:

  • 2 cups simple syrup
  • 3 cups fresh watermelon chunks

Sorbet:

  • 4 cups watermelon purée
  • 1 cup tequila
  • 1/3 cup mint syrup
  • (we recommend Monin)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Make Purée:

Remove seeds from watermelon and purée in blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine watermelon with simple syrup and stir.

Make Sorbet:

Combine watermelon purée with tequila, mint syrup, and lemon juice.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the sorbet into freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 8 hours before serving.

Makes about 2 quarts

Serving Suggestion:

Recreate our Watermelon Mint Margarita Sundae by using an ice cream disher to scoop the sorbet into a pink cone bowl and garnish with fresh mint, Watermelon Jelly Belly seeds and sour watermelon Gummies.

Grown Up Sundae Station

“Now that you know how to make some of our most popular boozy ice cream treats, it’s time to

showcase your talents with an ice cream party,” says Tavss about this section of her book which helps you organize a grown up sundae station that’s the perfect dessert for special occasions like 21st birthdays and engagement parties.

“For the holidays go all out with pretty seasonal toppings or add Prosecco to your bar so guests can make their own floats,” she says. “Boozy ice cream makes every occasion a little more fun—cheers.”

Assorted Boozy Ice Creams and Sorbets

What you’ll need:

  • Insulated Beverage Tub
  • Oversized Martini Glass
  • Oversized Margarita Glass
  • 3 Rocks Glasses or Mason Jars
  • Small Serving Spoons
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Rainbow Sprinkles
  • Gummy Bears
  • Cookie Crumble
  • Sour Fruit Slices

Place beverage tub in the middle of a 4-ft table and fill with ice.

Fill oversized martini glass with sprinkles, oversized margarita glass with cherries, and three rocks glasses with other toppings.

Insert servings spoons in toppings and arrange on the table around the tub.

Fill a quart-sized container with water and two ice cream scoops and place to the left of the beverage tub.

On one end of the table put out small bowls, spoons and napkins.

As guests arrive remove ice cream pints from the freezer and place in the tub of ice. Invite guests to make their own boozy ice cream sundaes! Our toppings are just suggestions, so swap for your favorites or add even more garnishes to your sundae bar.

The Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries

“Wisconsin is not just about cheddar; we have a large variety of cheeses which consistently win awards.” Kristine Hansen, author, The Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries (Globe Pequot Press 2019; $24.95)

“Some people say that the French have the best cheese but I think Wisconsin cheese is the best and I can say that because I wrote the book on cheese” says Kristine Hansen, who actually did write The Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries (Globe Pequot Press 2019; $24.95). “Wisconsin is not just about cheddar; we have a large variety of cheeses which consistently win awards.”

With over a million cows, the state turns out more than 2.8 billion pounds of cheese per year. Hansen focused on the growing artisanal cheese producers in the state and though her cookbook has 60 recipes (as well as beautiful, lush photos), it’s as much of a travel guide—call it a cheesy road trip if you can excuse our pun–to 28 of the state’s creameries.

“A lot of my friends, when they come to visit, want to know the best cheese places I’ve discovered and ask for directions,” says Hansen, a Milwaukee-based journalist covering food/drink, art/design and travel whose articles have appeared in many magazines and websites including Midwest Living, Vogue and on Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler.

Writing the book meant lots of time on the road, visiting corners of the state where she’d never been and learning the intricacies of cheese making.

So, what makes Wisconsin cheese so great? After all, there are cows throughout the Midwest, but Indiana, Illinois and Michigan don’t have nearly the same amount of small batch hand crafted cheesemakers as the Badger State.

               “A lot of Swiss immigrants settled here, particularly in Green county,” says Hansen about the home of Green County Cheese Days, the oldest and largest food fest in the Midwest. The festival honors the area’s Swiss heritage (their Swiss credentials are such that there’s also Wilhelm Tell and Heidi festivals) cheesemaking tradition. The later includes a dozen creameries producing over 50 varieties of award-winning cheeses as well as the only domestic maker of Limburger and the only U.S. factory making 180-pound wheels of Old World Emmenthale.  

               Other creameries mentioned in Hansen’s book include the Door County Creamery in Sister Bay in scenic Door County, where visitors where visitors can not only sample cheese and take a farm tour but also participate in a 40-minute goat yoga session.

 “ClockShadow is one of only two urban creameries in the country,” says Hansen about this Milwaukee cheeserie which offers tours. “One of the reasons they opened is they wanted people in Milwaukee to be able to get fresh cheese curds without having to drive very far.”

As an added plus, adults can also combine the experience by taking a tour of the Milwaukee Brewing Company which is just across the street.

“People think the best Gouda comes out of Holland, but Marieke Gouda is wonderful,” says Hansen.

Located in Thorp, Marieke Gouda has a product store, newly opened Café DUTCHess and features tours. Across the street, Penterman Farm where the milk for Marieke Gouda is provided by Brown Swiss and Holstein cows, there’s a viewing room and tours as well.

Bleu Mont in Blue Mounds is one of several cheeseries in the state with a cheese cave.  

Asked what’s the most unique Wisconsin cheese she’s sampled—and she’s tried a lot, Hansen mentions Carr Valley’s Cocoa Cardona, a mild, sweet, caramel flavored cheese balanced by a slight nuttiness that’s dusted with chocolate.

“There are about 500 varieties of cheese of so in Wisconsin, so there’s a lot to choose from” says Hansen. “And the cheeses here are not just for those who live in Wisconsin. Uplands Pleasant Ridge cheese costs $26 a pound and sells in New York City. That says a lot about the state’s cheeses.”

Food of the Italian South by Katie Parla



U Pan Cuott. Photo credit Ed Anderson.

It’s personal for Katie Parla, award winning cookbook author, travel guide and food blogger who now has turned her passion for all things Italian to the off-the-beaten paths of Southern Italy, with its small villages, endless coastline, vast pastures and rolling hills.
“Three of my grandmother’s four grandparents are from Spinoso, deep in a remote center of Basilicata,” says Parla, the author of the just released Food of the Italian South: Recipes for Classic, Disappearing Lost Dishes (Clarkson Potter 2019; $30).

Katie Parla in Southern Italy. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


Parla is a journalist but she’s also a culinary sleuth, eager to learn all about foodways as well as to chronicle and save dishes that are quickly disappearing from modern Italian tables. She’s lived in Rome since graduating with a degree from Yale in art history and her first cookbook was the IACP award winning Tasting Rome. She’s also so immersed herself in Italian cuisine that after moving to Rome, she earned a master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture from the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”, a sommelier certificate from the Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori Ristoratori, and an archeological speleology certification from the city of Rome.



Matera. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


In tiny Spinoso, Parla and her mother checked into one of the few available rooms for rent and went to office of vital statistics to find out more about family history.
“We made the mistake of getting there before lunch,” she says. “You could tell they really want to go home and eat. They told us there were only four or five last names in the village and since ours wasn’t one of them, then we couldn’t be there.”



Caiazzo. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


But Parla found that sharing wine with the officers soon produced friendlier results (“wine and food always does that in Italy,” she says) and after leafing through dusty, oversized ledgers written in fading, neat cursive they were able to locate the tiny house where her grandfather had lived as well as other extensive family history.
“Thank goodness for Napoleon, who was really into record keeping, no matter his other faults” says Parla.

Katie Parla. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


Many of her ancestors were sheepherders, tending sheep, staying with a flock for a week in exchange for a loaf of bread. This poverty was one reason so many Southern Italians left for America. But it also is the basis for their pasta and bread heavy cuisine says Parla.
To capture the flavors of this pastoral area, Parla visited restaurants and kitchens, asking questions and writing down recipes which had evolved over the centuries from oral traditions.
Describing Rome, Venice and Florence as “insanely packed,” Parla believes that those looking for a less traveled road will love Southern Italy, an ultra-authentic region to the extent that in Cilento, for example, there are more cars than people on the road.




Spezzatino all Uva . Photo credit Ed Anderson.


“There’s all this amazing food,” she says. “But also, there’s all this unspoiled beauty such as the interior of Basilicata. And the emptiness, because so many people are gone, creates this sense of haunted mystery. It’s so special, I want people to understand the food and to visit if they can.”
For more information, visit katieparla.com


’U Pan’ Cuott’
Baked Bread and Provolone Casserole

Serves 4 to 6
1 pound day-old durum wheat bread (I like Matera-style; see page 198), torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
7 ounces provolone cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon peperoni cruschi powder or sweet paprika
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon peperoncino or red pepper flakes
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Overview:
In Bernalda, a town in Basilicata best known as the ancestral village of Francis Ford Coppola, there are many ancient bread traditions. The town isn’t far from the durum wheat fields of the Murgia plateau and the famous bread towns Matera and Altamura. One of the town’s classic dishes is ’u pan’ cuott’ (Bernaldese dialect for pane cotto, “cooked bread”). Families would bake stale slices of Bernalda’s enormous 3-kilogram loaves with whatever food scraps they could find, resulting in a savory, delicious bread casserole bound by gooey bits of melted provolone. Use the crustiest durum bread you can find or bake.
Method:
Preheat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the center position.
Place the bread in a colander, rinse with warm water, and set aside to soften. The bread should be moistened but not sopping wet.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, provolone, peperoni cruschi, garlic, oregano, peperoncino, and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Season with salt.
When the bread crusts have softened, squeeze out any excess liquid and add the bread to the bowl with the tomato mixture. Stir to combine.
Grease a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, pour in the tomato mixture, and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil on top. Bake until the top is heavily browned, and the provolone has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Spezzatino all’Uva
Pork Cooked with Grapes

Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, salted and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 cup dry red wine (I like Aglianico del Vulture)
2 bay leaves
4 cups pork stock or water
1 bunch of red grapes (I like Tintilia grapes), halved and seeded

Overview:
The foothills east of the Apennines in Molise grow Tintilia, an indigenous red grape known for its low yield and pleasant notes of red fruit and spices. Each year, the majority of the harvested grapes are pressed to make wine, with the remainder reserved for jams and even savory dishes like this pork and grape stew, which is only made at harvest time. The slight sweetness of the grapes mingles beautifully with the savory pork and herbaceous notes of the bay leaves. Salt the pork 24 hours in advance.
Method:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the pork, working in batches as needed, and cook, turning, until it is browned on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the pork and set aside on a plate.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium, and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the alcohol aroma dissipates and the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes, add the bay leaves.
Return the pork to the pan. Add enough stock so the meat is mostly submerged and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours more, until the pork is fork-tender. Add the grapes at the 1 ¼ hour mark and continue cooking until they are tender. If the sauce becomes too dry, add a bit more stock (you may not need all the stock). Serve immediately. 
Ifyougo:
What: Katie Parla has three events in Chicago
When & Where: March 19 from 6:30 to 9pm. Katie will be celebrating the release of her cookbook with her friends at Monteverde, 1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL. The cost of the dinner is $150 including food, wine pairings, tax, gratuity and copy of the book. (312) 888-3041.
When & Where: March 20 from 6 to 9pm. Katie will be hosting an aperitivo and signing at Lost Lake’s Stranger in Paradise, 3154 W Diversey Ave., Chicago, IL. No booking necessary, just come on down. Books will be sold on site by Book Cellar. (773) 293-6048.
Menu of five cocktails from the book, $12.
Three small plates (two pastas from Pastificio di Martino and olive oil poached tuna, endive and olives) from Chef Fred Noinaj, $12-15.
When & Where: March 21 from 6 to 7:30pm. Katie will host an aperitivo and sign books, which will be available for purchase at Bonci Wicker Park, 1566 N Damen Ave., Chicago, IL. (872) 829-3144.

Fabio Viviani: Fabio’s 30-Minute Italian

“Good cooking and a lot of flavor don’t have to take a lot of time,” says Fabio Viviani, chef, restauranteur and TV personality, explaining why he wrote Fabio’s 30-Minute Italian (St. Martin’s 2017; $27.99), his beautifully photographed cookbook filled with wonderfully accessible recipes. “The whole premise is easy.”

Viviani, who grew up in Florence, Italy, started working in a bakery when he was 11 not so much from a love of food but because he needed to work to help out his family. But labor developed into a passion. Now 28 years later, he’s amassed a food empire with two California vineyards, several cookbooks, stints on several Top Chef show (he won Fan Favorite on Season Five), restaurants including two in Chicago—Siena Tavern and Prime & Provisions and his Mercado concept, described as a “rustic-yet refined eatery destination by celebrity chef Fabio Viviani” with locations that include Chicago, Tempe, Arizona and Benton Harbor, Michigan.

He also currently has a weekly web series, “Fabio’s Kitchen” and is doing “Dinner is Served,” an online video series

With such a busy schedule, I wonder if he ever gets tired of cooking.

“I like it,” he says, “sometimes I don’t. It’s like a marriage, you yell at each other and then you go back to it.”

Asked what recipes he might recommend for those who haven’t cooked Italian before, Viviani recommends the chapters on pasta and salads because they have, for the most part particularly if you don’t make your pasta from scratch, “have less ingredients and take less time.”

Noting that his Italian heritage taught him less is more, Viviani says “you don’t have to overdo it to put really good food on the table.”

Ifyougo:

What: Fabio will be doing a presentation, cooking demo, Q&A, & cookbook signing.

When: Tuesday, May 16 at

Where: Snaidero Showroom, 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL

Blissful Basil: Over 100 Plant-Powered Recipes to Unearth Vibrancy, Health & Happiness

Finding a sense of peace and contentment in her life by eating healthier and follow a menu of plant basedblissfulbasil_frontcover of Vegan meals, Ashley Melillo began blogging while earning her graduate degree in school psychology.

Eating whole food helped Melillo deal with the anxiety and stress of her life. And she shares her food philosophy and the recipes she’s created not only on her blog, Blissful Basil, but also in her new cookbook, Blissful Basil: Over 100 Plant-Powered Recipes to Unearth Vibrancy, Health & Happiness (BenBella 2016; $21.95).

It’s not easy, says Melillo who also earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies
.

“There are no quick fixes,” she says about incorporating both physical exercise and a wide variety of plant-based foods into our diet.

Indeed, one wholesome smoothie such as her Energizing Carrot Cake Smoothie, Get Glowing Strawberry Mango Chia Pudding or her Cheesy Herb or the Sun-Dried Tomato Good Morning Biscuits, won’t turn our lives upside down health-wise. But it’s all a step in the right direction to achieving physical, mental and emotional well-being.

“I think it’s tempting for many of us to want to think otherwise but it’s necessary to build up good habits,” she says. “It’s a matter of making small but good choices every day. It’s a way to taking care of all aspects of your health—cognitive and physical.”

Of course, as a psychologist, Melillo recognizes that it’s most difficult to make these changes at those times in our lives when we most need to do so.

“It’s when some of these emotions are most at their peak and when you feel almost too overwhelmed to try taking the steps to move forward, that’s when it’s the hardest,” she says. “But it’s the hardest things that push up forward and end up being the best things for us. But it’s important to make ourselves do so–to start chipping away at our anxiety or stress or depression. By taking that one step, oftenswift-sweet-potato-coconut-curry-srgb we can go on and take another and another and ultimately alleviate some of those overwhelming feelings.”

For Melillo, sticking with a whole foods plant-based diet doesn’t mean not allowing herself a little flexibility. But there are also other fixes too. Want something sweet? Try a vegan dessert such as her Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars, Enlivening Lemon Bars, Peanut Butter Cookies and Cosmically Fudgy Cacao Tahini Brownies. Hankering for a pizza? Melillo has a variety
of pizzas such as her White Pizza with Garlic Herb Oil, Mozzarella and Puffy Potato Crust.

“I think it’s important to have an element of self-compassion and understanding,” she says. “If you know you’re craving something that’s maybe not the thing that makes you feel greatest, but it just is what you’re feeling that you want to eat in that moment so like a vegan cookie or more processed vegan pizza something like that.”

Realizing that many people aren’t ready to go totally plant-based or Vegan or know much about, Melillo offers a glossary of terms, recipes for pantry items to keep on hand and helpful symbols—colored circle noting whether recipes are free of gluten, grain, soy, nut, oil, refined sugar and if they’re raw.

Melillo asked meat lovers to taste test the recipes in her book because she wanted them to be appealing not only for those already committed to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle but to all those who pick up her cookbook or read her blog.

“I really want everyone to love the recipes in this book,” she says.

Ifyougo:

What: Ashley Melillo talk and book signing

When: Thursday, February 16, 7:00 p.m.

Where: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (773) 293-2665; bookcellarinc.com

 

 

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